"It impacted everything—business relations, my marriage, my friends," says the 45-year-old Georgia resident who used to work 60-to-80 hours a week.
"We had been attending church for several years but we were in the balcony, sneaking in and out, not being involved, going there because we felt that church should be part of our children's lives. I was going through a lot of pain. My business was doing well because I had concentrated on it; it was my life. My marriage, however, was suffering drastically."
Larry's wife, Meg, asked him to attend a men's conference their church was sponsoring. The father of two teenagers went, but tentatively. After all, he thought, what good is success in business if the life it provides for is an utter failure?
No man fails on purpose. No man wakes up in the morning and says, "Well, I think I'll see what I can do to ruin my life today." But they often do.
And churches that reach such men are few. As one leader puts it, "A man is a hard thing to reach!"
For pastors, it's like the young basketball player who did such a terrific job in practice that his coach put him on the starting team. Ten minutes into the season opener, though, his play was downright terrible. The coach called him over to the sideline and said, "What's going on? You're not moving the ball or scoring."
"Coach," he said, "I'd be doing great if it weren't for all those tall guys out there waving their arms in my face!"
He didn't get it. Getting the job done amid arm-waving opposition is what the game is all about. In men's ministry, likewise, the natural resistance we encounter in reaching men is part of the game.
Yet few ministries have as much potential to revive our families, churches, and communities. When one man turns to Jesus Christ, it breaks a chain of bondage to sin and broken relationships. One changed man can set a family for many generations on a new course of joy, peace, and reconciliation. I know of nothing in this life quite so intoxicating as watching a man come to faith and repentance.
Setting Men in Motion
In business we have a saying: "Your system is perfectly designed to produce the result you're getting." If you are manufacturing cars and every third car rolls off the assembly line missing a front right fender, your system is perfectly designed to produce that result.
The same applies to ministries. If men in our churches such as Larry don't "get it" spiritually, we can assume it's because our ministry system is perfectly designed to produce the result we're getting.
Here's how churches are redesigning their systems to produce men who love God, provide spiritual leadership to their families, and serve the Lord.
It boils down to managing momentum. It's about overcoming the inertia in men and keeping them moving. I would like to give you a system to create, capture, and sustain momentum.
Notice the circle at the center of the diagram. An effective men's ministry begins with a clear understanding of your purpose for men in the church. Everything revolves around this. The first step is to write down what you're trying to accomplish and why. (You'll gain the most acceptance by involving in this process the men you want as leaders for your new ministry.) For example, if your purpose statement is "To reach and equip the men of our church to be spiritual leaders for their families, church, work, and community," you probably wouldn't focus on service projects. Instead, you would focus on discipleship groups.
At the church Larry and his family attended, a core group of motivated men had been gathering and praying for the Lord to bring men to their upcoming momentum-building conference. This small group of men had recently been galvanized by their pastor with the clear purpose of reaching other men in their church. The goal was to offer these men on the fringe an opportunity to re-evaluate their lives and priorities.